Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
responding to the Horn and East Africa drought
Over the last year, unprecedented ‘consecutive rainfall failure’ and much warmer than usual temperatures in northern Kenya have depleted rangeland and water resources, and increased internal livestock movement in search of pastures and water. With 98 percent of open water sources depleted, watering distances (the distance that households and livestock must travel to reach water) are well above average. Emergency-level food security crises are expected to persist given constrained household income and increased depletion of livelihood assets.
The same is true for neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia, with affected individuals numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Everything in the region revolves around water - and is affected by the lack of it.
No water means no food. No food means people are weak and cannot work. Children cannot go to school when parents do not have a source of livelihood, and all are suffering malnutrition. Animals cannot survive without water.
Through recent responses and ongoing partnerships, Week of Compassion, alongside ACT Alliance members and ecumenical implementing partners, is working to provide resources for basic survival, recovery, and rehabilitation of the Horn and East Africa communities threatened by this underreported crisis.
Tune Sharamo Billi, a 27-year-old mother of three, has always been resourceful and hardworking, but the drought and conflict in the region made it increasingly difficult for her to find enough food for her family. Like many others, Tune relies on her livestock to support herself and her family, but the ongoing drought has decimated her herd.
“My husband and I used to have 60 goats and two camels but both camels and 50 of my goats have died because of the drought,” Tune says. “There was a day I heard about [an assistance program for] vulnerable households like mine, but I never thought that I would be eligible for it because I come from a community with 175 households, and we all are facing this prolonged drought with no food to eat. One day, a community leader approached me and told me that I had been selected to receive cash transfers as part of the program. I was overjoyed and grateful for the opportunity to provide for my family. This is going to make a huge difference in our lives.”
Tune, who is expecting her fourth child, sometimes goes for days without having something to eat. At a clinic visit, the doctor told her that she was anemic and in danger of being malnourished. She was really worried for her health and especially for her children. With the cash transfer, Tune was able to buy food and other essentials for her family. “I used the money that I received to buy rice, maize flour, sugar, and beans. I am now able to support my family and my in-laws too. My 12-year daughter is excited to wake up and go to school because she can now get breakfast, and even dinner.’”
The work of global disaster response in these drought-affected nations recognizes that there are still unmet needs, and with below-average rainfall predicted for the coming months as well, the situation could worsen and communities will require extensive and ongoing support.
In response to these needs, ACT Alliance partners are focused on reducing morbidity and mortality; sustained access to safe water and food production; and access to quality education resources, psychosocial and medical support, and social protection from gender-based violence and exploitation. Assistance is creative, widespread, and community-driven, including families, service providers, government and faith leaders.
Between the three Horn and East Africa nations (Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia), ACT Alliance partners are implementing assistance and relief programs that could serve as many as 426,000 people. The ongoing focus is responding to critical immediate needs, and empowering communities to develop resources and networks to move them forward toward stronger and more resilient outcomes. In nations far too familiar with valleys of literal dry bones, Week of Compassion is grateful for long-standing partnerships, consistent generosity, and deeply rooted connection that means God’s promised restoration of land and resuscitation to new life IS possible, in the immediate term and for the days to come.
stories courtesy ACT Alliance, Christian Aid Kenya, Finn Church Aid ~ photos courtesy Finn Church Aid & Church World Service, via ACT Alliance
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